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Why you should consider these free mental health apps over their fee paying competition.


Best Free Mental Health Apps 2020

Mindshift = CBT Sanvello Mood Fit

Market Saturation

The market is now flooded with mental health apps, all promising to improve your mental health. Often apps are created by a developer alone, which leads to poor clinical content, a clinician leading to poor app functionality or by a developer, with psychologist input, these tend to be the better ones. So many are built by tech start-ups and big companies trying to become the next Headspace. The true question lies in if the user is at the heart of what they do. Does this matter, if it is helping people?

Are companies considering the user?

A lot of apps seem to miss the mark in looking out for the wellbeing of the person buying it. Youper, should you download it, is very pushy with a subscription. The endless notifications, the AI chatbot asking if you want to meditate, then asking you to upgrade to do so. I cannot foresee as a clinical professional how this would aid any individual’s mental health.

72% of people indicate that money was their biggest stressor. Often, it can be all too easy to be railroaded by sales tactics into lifetime subscriptions that one simply cannot afford. Financial problems are not only one of the biggest stressors in life but to an anxious person, the thought of having to call a customer service line to cancel a subscription is enough to send a person into a downward spiral, both emotionally and financially. This may seem extreme to you, but to others, it is a reality, a reality that simply started as them wanting to improve their mental health by downloading an app.

There are some great free apps out there. What you need from an app, is that everything is in one place, meditation, a journal and mood monitoring, simple, right.

Are apps a therapist’s replacement?

A lot of therapists would say, "no app has the current potential to replace a therapist" and I 100% agree. If you are looking for something to invest in, let that investment be you!

Apps do have a place though, while you are waiting for therapy, if therapy is not free like here in the UK, you cannot bring yourself to access healthcare or after therapy to track your mood. Often it can be all too easy to end up back in a crisis before you have sought help, at least with a mood tracker you might catch yourself on a downward spiral early on.

Meditation Apps

I have tried many meditation apps, after doing to Buddhist meditation on YouTube for several years, I have never been able to sit through an app’s meditation.

A lot of the apps are more relaxation than meditation, which can be a great starting point. Meditation is a more of a journey you go on to find inner stillness. I would personally recommend you look-up Ajahn Brahm on YouTube, real meditation, free, with no agenda.

Despite my reservations around generic and robotic meditation, there are so many good free apps out there. These are three of the best.

App Name Meditation Journal Mood Tracker Think Maps Gratitude, coping cards etc. Goals Comments
Mindshift

Coping cards are a nice touch.

Reframing after the journal is great!

Calm zone, no real meditation.

Sanvello

Slight lag at times.

Good range of choice for meditation

Challenges are great

Mood Fit

Emoji to express mood.

Good introduction to meditation.

MindShift-CBT

The app was developed in Canada and is a great free app. It has everything you could want; a mood tracker, a journal, with great reframing afterwards. The design is simple, interactive and effective. The mood tracker is easy to use, and the think traps are a very useful feature.

The coping cards are one of my favorite’s aspects. You can add quotes and inspirational notes to yourself to look at in darker times. It has a goal’s feature, which is handy, though not as interactive as Sanvello.

The user can input anxiety-provoking events into a calendar, you then predict what will happen and the anxiety level associated with it. After the event, you then go back and record what happened and the actual anxiety level, so good!

It does have calm breathing and it is just that. Would be helpful when feeling overwhelmed or to bring down your stress levels during the day.

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store

Sanvello

Sanvello takes a little longer to get started than MindShift-CBT as it goes through anxiety and depression questionnaires. It does have focused questions which are insightful as it gives you an anxiety and depression score.

It has a meditation feature, though it is rather robotic. It is vastly better than MindShift, with an array of options. It certainly doesn't lead you into it like Moodfit though, it is more, sit, meditate.

You can set yourself challenges to complete, they are not large challenges, making them attainable. This was my favorite feature.

There was an occasional lag and a PLEASE WAIT circle of death, however, it did load and did not disrupt the overall user experience.

It has a very useful gratitude section, MindShift did not have this feature. There is a journal, it is not as interactive with reframing as MindShift though.

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store

Moodfit

I loved this app. It certainly didn’t have the same features as the other two but it was refreshing.

It has emoji’s that you can use to express your emotions, which are not the standard ones you see every day. A great feature to engage some younger generations.

Moodfit had the best meditation of all the ones I have reviewed to date.

There is no journal which was disappointing, however, it does have a gratitude journal. It does send a positive notification each day, which is nice to receive.

There are no goals to add or complete, which again, is disappointing. It does have think traps though, whereas Sanvello did not.

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store

Final thoughts

Moodfit may be good for younger adults and teens, the emojis are good and the app is interactive. It has a good feel to it and the gratitude journal and positive notifications are a nice feature.

Moodfit had the best meditation closely followed by Sanvello which had an array of choice.

All the apps have great functionality and are well made. It can be frustrating finding a good free app as there are so many to choose from. I hope you enjoy these apps as much as I did.